Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated 3:35 p.m.) Higher Logic (1919 N. Lynn Street),an engagement platform that uses community and marketing automation to improve customer and member experiences., is still growing quickly.

The company, founded 13 years ago, helps people within companies, nonprofits and member-based organizations build stronger communities, according to a company spokesperson. It was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the country last year.

Higher Logic was founded under Rob Wenger, who is the executive chairman. It moved to Rosslyn in 2018 and now has offices in Portland; Saratoga Springs, New York; and Australia.

The company’s nonprofit customers include organizations like 340B Health and the American Association of Airport Executives.

Though Higher Logic specializes in building online communities, development of marketing automation and integration of pre-existing platforms, according to a company spokesperson.

The software gives people the tool to to facilitate efficient conversations, clear up confusion and answer questions by connecting the right people and even help people form mentorships, the spokesperson said.

Throughout the years, the company has received grants and awards including a $60,000 grant from Arlington Economic Development. It was also listed in 2016 as one of Virginia’s Fantastic 50 Companies by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview published by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Hunter Montgomery, who was previously in charge of the Higher Logic’s marketing, said the company’s growth can be at least partially attributed to its acquisition of two companies: Informz and Real Magnet, Inc.

Now, the company employs around 320 people and is actively hiring, according to a press release, which added that the company is looking to take on roughly 30 new employees in almost every department.

Every year around the fall, Higher Logic hosts a conference in D.C. bringing together clients from around the country. The spokesperson said the gathering serves as a training opportunity to educate customers on how to use the software and allows people to brainstorm new potential improvements and give feedback.

The 2020 conference is set for September.

Photo via Higher Logic/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Fend, a Ballston-based cybersecurity firm founded in August 2017, landed an investment from the Center for Innovative Technology’s (CIT) CIT GAP Fund earlier this fall. That’s on top of the $1.2 million Department of Energy Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant earmarked for shielding the country’s solar energy installations from cyberattacks.

The recent developments, said Fend CEO Colin Dunn, take the company beyond its bootstrap origins, an achievement the five full-time staffers–many of them recently relocated from elsewhere in the country–are rightly proud of. In addition to the employees at the Ballston office, Fend has a network of contractors “throughout the Commonwealth,” Dunn said, who help the company accomplish its ambitious mission of preventing cyberattacks to physical structures. Those include everything from military installations to power plants to public water systems, and even moving vehicles.

In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), everything, particularly cumbersome industrial plants and utilities, is vulnerable to hackers. Fend’s proprietary system is a hybrid of integrated hardware and software that provides real-time monitoring of data, all of it intended “to keep the bad guys out,” Dunn said.

Fend was founded at a business accelerator in Reston before moving to Clarendon and then, most recently, to Ballston. Dunn said the employees who have relocated from out of state are finding Arlington’s amenities to be, well, amenable, particularly the transportation options.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Since its inception in 2013, there have been over 300 Startup Monday columns published on ARLnow.

A part of what makes Arlington such fertile ground for launching startups — aside from being adjacent to the nation’s capital — is the county’s own resources. One such resource is BizLaunch, a program sponsored by Arlington Economic Development that works as the county’s “small business and entrepreneurial assistance network.”

Small business and startups can register to on BizLaunch and have access to over 40 workshops and seminars every year, along with personal business coaching, counseling, and education.

In 2019 alone, “BizLaunch experienced a 20% uptick in businesses seeking its services,” said Director of BizLaunch Tara Palacios. “Trends for this year are businesses who specialize in health, mindfulness and fitness. Not surprising with Arlington being named the fittest city in the U.S.”

Notable health startups featured by ARLnow in 2019 include Excella, a Courthouse-based technology firm working to put together an app to detect alcohol misuse, and Fresh Impact, Arlington’s only commercial urban farm.

Other startups that continued to grow and expand past Arlington in 2019 included Eastern Foundry, a government-contracting co-working space that launched its North Carolina location this year, and Hungry, a catering businesses that recently touched down in New York City.

Several businesses hailing from overseas saw fit to land in Arlington this past year, including digital intelligence startup Fivecast, which moved from Australia, and phone security business Sensipass, which came over from Dublin.

Another trend that might be emerging: companies moving to Arlington, citing proximity to Amazon’s HQ2, as Amify did earlier this year. Local industry figures say HQ2 should also help bring excitement and more business diversity to a local tech scene that’s heavy on government contractors and cybersecurity firms.

The top 10 most-read Startup Monday articles of 2019 were:

  1. Arlington’s Only Commercial Urban Farm
  2. Rosslyn Startup ‘Hungry’ Expanding, Looking for New Talent
  3. This Clarendon Startup Wants You To Use 3-Factor Password Authentication
  4. Rosslyn-Based Startup ‘Hungry’ Scores $8 Million in Funding with Help from Jay-Z
  5. Ballston-Based Startup Aims to be Uber for Transporting Cars
  6. Startup That Teaches Businesses to Sell on Amazon Moves Closer to HQ2
  7. Columbia Pike Startup Wants to be Uber for Oil Changes
  8. Ballston Startup Aims to Make Car Refinancing Easy
  9. Loosened FCC Regulations Open the Door for Ballston Startup’s Wireless Expansion
  10. Startup Monday: The Arlington Couple Behind The “Candygrams” Board Game
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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

When someone places an order on Beachgoer.com, Arlington natives and 2015 Yorktown High School graduates David Moeller and Finn Cardiff drive an hour to their warehouse in Manassas to package and ship it themselves.

“Yup — it’s just the two of us,” Moeller said. “We’re either at home on our computers, or driving out to the warehouse and back again.”

In 2017 while still in college — (Moeller at Ohio State and Cardiff at Virginia Tech — the two friends put together their passions for business and software development to tackle a niche market: beach supplies.

Working with over 250,000 thousand lines of code, the two created an algorithm that analyzes millions of data points across the beach supplies industry — think, what a surfboard is going for on Amazon — to sort what they can buy at wholesale at the most efficient price.

“Starting off, we just wanted sell our own brand of products with a beach niche, but we quickly realized there was a lot more opportunity to sell online across a variety of brands,” Cardiff said.

Since then, Beachgoer has grown a hundred times in size with over 200 products for sale, ranging from high-end body boards to beach balls.

So far, Moeller and Cardiff have not raised any outside capital. The two are currently searching for investors with the eventual goal of securing $2.5 million.

“Being based in Arlington, I mean clearly we’re from here, but the area gives us so many valuable networking opportunities,” Moeller said. “There’s a lot of talent and smart people that we connect with on a daily basis to learn about the industry.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Arlington couple Anaïs Ortiz and Johnny Landers had played just about every board game together. When thinking about what to play next, a thought occurred — what if they made their own?

After two years of trial and error (and a move to Los Angeles), Candygrams was born. The award-winning strategy board game starts with a set of 25 letter tiles. Players then roll color-coded die that determines which of their tiles they can use to build a crossword, and the first player to use all of their tiles wins.

“Johnny and I know Arlington like the back of our hand — we went through the public school system, and actually met at H-B Woodlawn,” said Ortiz. “When we decided to launch Candygrams, we knew we had the support of the Arlington community would have our backs.”

Since the game launched in 2018, it’s won six national gaming awards. The game can be bought online and is also stocked in three area stores: Sun & Moon Yoga (3811 Lee Hwy), Trade Roots (5852 Washington Blvd), and Kinder Haus Toys (1220 N. Filmore Street). 

“Needless to say, we’re excited about the holiday season,” said Ortiz. “There’s been a huge uptick in the [board game] industry, and Candygrams is no exception.”

The couple is already in the planning process for another game, this time card-based and focused on the “winds and sands of an iconic national park.”

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

After five years in Arlington, Eastern Foundry — a co-working incubator focused on government contractors as tenants — has expanded outside of Virginia.

In September, the company opened its third location in Fayetteville, North Caroline, ten minutes way from Fort Bragg — the largest Army installation in the world.

“When we were thinking about our next expansion, we were looking at places that would be both affordable and expand our network access, and Fort Bragg was perfect,” said Regina Burke, director of client operations and development for the company.

“In Fayetteville, we can still have a strong reach from other North Carolina cities like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greenville, so in addition to soldiers who choose to stay in the area after being stationed in Fort Bragg, we get government workers from all over,” Burke said.

The Fayetteville campus features three conference rooms for up to fifty people, a rooftop deck, and flexible space for both private offices and single workers.

“As an Army veteran, I know how important the units and contractors in and around Ft. Bragg are to our nation, so I’ve wanted to open a location here for years,” said Eastern Foundry co-founder Andrew Chang, in a statement. “The access to government tailored business support services can act as a major catalyst to any business looking to grow.”

In addition to their latest outpost, Eastern Foundry has also expanded both of its Rosslyn and Crystal City offices by about 15,000 square feet each, according to Burke. 

“We still have a few vacancies left in our Rosslyn space, but that’s about it,” Burke said.

By solely leasing office space to government contractors, Eastern Foundry creates a unique, collaborative ecosystem for people to share ideas and have an open discussion.

“There’s a stereotype that government contracting is dog-eat-dog– which is not true,” Burke said. “When companies come to our space, that wall that they have kind of comes down.”

Going forward, the company is still easing into their its space, but is now looking to continue to expand nationwide.

“We would love to find a place in Tampa, Florida, or Huntsville, Alabama, these cities where there’s a need for both government contractors and co-working spaces,” said Burke.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

After traveling back and forth from Australia to Arlington six times in one year, Duane Rivett his team at Fivecast came to a realization — they needed a permanent US presence, and Arlington was the perfect fit.

“Almost a month ago,” Rivett said, “I packed everything up and moved my family to Arlington to open our space in Ballston.”

Fivecast uses its artificial intelligence software, Fivecast Insights, to mine through publicly available data and extract potential threats in terrorism or cybersecurity. It has clients in the fields of law enforcement, defense, and national intelligence.

“We can’t disclose our clients,” Rivett said, “But we have a federal agency as a customer, and being close to tech-heavy areas such as Reston, Herndon, Sterling — it’s great.”

The company was founded in 2017 as a spin-off from Australia’s Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre. In July, Fivecast secured $2.6 million in venture capital funding, which was used for its international expansion into Arlington.

“Fivecast is a perfect example of what can be produced at the intersection of local technology driven industries like defense and a thriving deep technology ecosystem – high growth, global businesses that will retain and create skilled jobs and expertise in [Arlington],” said investor Dr. Elaine Stead in a statement.

Going forward, Rivett says he’s going to continue to work with a recruitment agency to expand Fivecast’s presence in Arlington — and getting his family, including two kids now in Arlington Public Schools — acclimated to America.

“It’s different for sure, but the kids really enjoyed getting to celebrate Halloween,” Rivett said. “That was a great time.”

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Rosslyn-based Airside Mobile, a travel app developer founded a decade ago by a pair of former TSA employees, is making national headlines thanks to a bit of timely research.

With the busy holiday travel season getting underway, Airside Mobile released a study, using data from Customs and Border Protection, ranking Thanksgiving passenger wait times for international arrivals at the 25 busiest international airports in the U.S.

The study is on-brand for Airside Mobile and its flagship Mobile Passport app, which “speeds you through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 30+ airports and cruise ports.” Here’s what company said about the study:

It’s well established that Thanksgiving is one of the busiest air travel periods of the year. Each year, there is lots of commentary around the domestic travel volume, but little attention is given to the international travel volume which also experiences a spike around Thanksgiving. Upon arriving to the U.S. from international destinations, all passengers must pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s clearance process. A passenger’s wait time for this clearance process is highly variable and driven by factors including volume of arriving passengers, number of open CBP processing booths, citizenship status, and the use of Global Entry or Mobile Passport Control. Using CBP’s Airport Wait Time tool, we analyzed 12 days of Thanksgiving 2018’s travel window (11/16/18 – 11/27/18) to predict the busiest days and times of Thanksgiving 2019’s travel window (11/22/19 – 12/2/18) at 25 of the highest volume airports.

Phoenix Sky Harbor, San Jose (Calif.), Baltimore-Washington, Charlotte Douglas and Philadelphia international airports ranked No. 1-5 respectively, while Newark, Miami and San Francisco were at the bottom of the list.

Washington Dulles ranked No. 6, with an average wait for U.S. citizens of 4 minutes. No. 3-ranked Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) reported an average wait of 3 minutes.

So far the wait time study has been reported by CNBC (“Flying this Thanksgiving? Here’s how long you’ll wait at immigration and security”) and USA Today (“Thanksgiving travel: Airports with the shortest and longest customs lines”).

“We’re seeing a small trend during the Thanksgiving window, with a lot of folks taking advantage of the long weekend to go abroad,” Patrick Merfert, Airside’s vice president of marketing, is quoted as saying by CNBC. “We wanted to see what it was going to look like when they arrived back home.”

“You tend to see a lot of smaller airports performing quite well, which is partially due to lower traffic, but you also see some larger airports punching above their weight,” Merfert also said, per the financial news network’s article. “Washington Dulles is ranking quite well despite having moderately high traffic.”

Crunching data and producing interesting infographics or rankings, then pitching the results to journalists, is a well-established way for companies to try to earn free media coverage. While many rankings never go beyond a press release, Airside Mobile was able to capitalize on public interest in holiday travel to pick up coverage from major outlets.

It’s not the only PR win for the company. CNBC also reported in August that Mobile Passport “makes clearing US airport immigration and customs a breeze,” following the release of the company’s premium service, dubbed Mobile Passport plus.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Startups in Arlington and the D.C. area need to take “bigger swings” if the region hopes to become a tech hub like Silicon Valley.

That’s the message from a panel discussion hosted by DCA Live earlier this month at Marymount University in Ballston.

At the Big DCA Growth Summit, panels of investors, founders, academics and other innovators reflected on Arlington’s big Amazon HQ2 win and what might be ahead for the area.

Amazon’s presence, with its forthcoming office campus in Pentagon City and some 25,000 planned jobs, will help bring excitement and more business diversity to a local tech scene that’s heavy on government contractors and cybersecurity firms.

“I’m honestly convinced that Jeff Bezos was looking for a place that had less hype around it,” said Mark Walsh, a local angel investor. “D.C. is begging for more attention for the good stuff it does outside of the government.”

If Amazon could bring with it more of a West Coast tech mindset, panelists said, it could help the D.C. area better compete with Silicon Valley’s tech ecosystem and generate more billion-dollar “unicorns.” More big startup investment wins would, in turn, help fuel investments in more startups — a virtuous cycle.

“Too many companies in the Mid-Atlantic — the exits were good but only a couple hundred million dollars,” said Scott Frederick of Rosslyn-based Sands Capital. “We need to take bigger swings and get more billion dollar companies like Cvent and EVERFI. Entrepreneurs in this region should think bigger. In the Valley they go to restaurants and park next to Bugattis — it’s a different mindset.”

(There’s another argument to be made, however, for not running an otherwise healthy business into the ground in an effort to become a unicorn when it could be a profitable multi-million dollar company.)

Frederick said, as others have noted in the past, that there’s a bit of gap between seed funding for early startups and growth capital for more mature companies. Those seeking Series A and B rounds, between the seed and later rounds, sometimes struggle to find it from investors, hurting the region’s tech ecosystem.

Funding hasn’t been a problem for at least one local startup co-founder, who recently raised $8 million, with more on the way. Eman Pahlevani, co-founder of Rosslyn-based catering marketplace Hungry, said that the affluent D.C. area is particularly good for those seeking early funding from angel investors.

“D.C. has one of the most robust angel communities. You can raise money fairly quickly in D.C. just by having relationships with angels,” said Pahlevani, who was also a cofounder of Livesafe. “If you’re successful here, word spreads quickly. It’s easier and quicker to raise money here than on the West Coast, and I’ve done both. I just think the opportunities here are immense.”

Another local asset: lots of people who are in a position to help local startups.

“Entrepreneurship is a contact sport,” said France Hoang, co-founder of Tysons-based BoodleAI. “As in, [personal] contacts. This is where my network was.”

Hoang said a key to bigger startup exits is finding fearless startup founders who can take risks and handle the dark “WFIO” moments that many startups experience — as in, “we’re f–ked, it’s over.” Pahlevani agreed.

“We’ve had our WFIO moments,” said Pahlevani, who added that part of startup success is in motivating one’s team and not lamenting the challenges. “There’s a lot of time spent building internal momentum, celebrating the smallest wins and building team momentum. Everyone working with you needs to believe it’s going to happen. Get your rocketship going. Get everyone on board.”

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Three years after it first launched, Arlington-based catering marketplace Hungry has all but outgrown its Rosslyn office.

That’s despite the startup moving to Rosslyn after outgrowing its former Clarendon office. This time around, the company plans to stay put, neighborhood-wise, when trading up to a larger space.

“Once that time comes, and it’s coming soon, we’re not going to leave Rosslyn,” said Hungry co-founder Eman Pahlevani. “The area’s been too good to us.”

Over the course of 2018 and 2019, Hungry has expanded into a number of new cities: Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City, with plans to also open in Los Angeles next year.

“We launched New York City about five weeks ago,” Pahlevani said. “It’s skyrocketed and the journey has treated us nicely. We have over 150 executive chefs working for us now.”

Hungry operates as an online catering platform, with a mission of making it easy to provide catered food to offices and meetings that people actually want to eat. Office managers are matched with area chefs, who in turn provide a full catering menu starting at $12 per person.

In addition, Hungry donates a meal for every two meals served.

“We’re expecting to reach 500,000 meals donated by the end of November, so that’s a really good feeling for us,” Pahlevani said.

Pahlevani said it’s rewarding to gain new customers, chefs and employees as the business grows and expands to new places.

“The business is taking on a national network effect, and it’s been really good to see,” Pahlevani told ARLnow. “A year ago we had 25 full-time workers, and now we’re up to 85.”

In April, the company raised $8 million during its Series A funding round, with prominent investors including groups led by musicians Usher and Jay-Z.

The startup plans to enter its B-round of funding by early next year as a result of growing interest from more investors. Among the A-listers that might be part of the Series B: Will Smith, Pharrell, and LeBron James.

“At first they just write checks,” Pahlevani said of the celebrity investors at a recent DCA Live event, but if the company is growing, “they start to get more involved” and bring on more friends as investors.

“They also help us launch in the markets they’re in, and they want to bring LA on board,” he added.

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Kurt Luther, an assistant professor of history and computer science at Virginia Tech, is well acquainted with the capabilities of artificial intelligence technology, recently launching an AI program used to rediscover lost identities in Civil War photographs.

Now, based out of the Virginia Tech Research Center (900 N. Glebe Road), Luther has moved onto his next project: GroundTruth.

Lead by Luther and Virginia Tech PhD student Sukrit Venkatagiri, the National Science Foundation-funded project utilizes AI software to narrow down the geolocation of any photograph, taken anywhere in the world.

During a presentation at the Virginia Tech Research Center on “The Future of AI and What it Means for Humans,” Luther showcased how his group of 11 expert researchers, along with 567 crowdsource workers, used GroundTruth to narrow down a framed shot taken from a video of a terrorist organization to its location with 98% accuracy.

“We’re in our third phase now,” Luther said, “Where we’re asking investigators, like journalists, to use the software for their real work to see how well it works in the wild, if you will.”

On November 11, Kurt and Venkatagiri will present the software at the Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 2019 conference in Austin, Texas.

Once finalized, Luther hopes the software will not only be used by investigative journalists, but by professionals in law enforcement and national security.

“In those cases, the time pressures are similar, and the stakes are potentially even higher, so it’s extra important we get it right and through our studies with journalists, we’re learning,” he said.

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